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19. Specimen of the first Writ of Ship-money.

[October 30, 1634. Rushworth, ii. 257. See Hist. of Engl. vii. 356, 369.]

Carolus Rex, &c.

To the Mayor, commonalty, and citizens of our city of London, and to the sheriffs of the same city, and good men in the said city and in the liberties, and members of the same, greeting: Because we are given to understand that certain thieves, pirates, and robbers of the sea, as well Turks, enemies of the Christian name, as others, being gathered together, wickedly taking by force and spoiling the ships, and goods, and merchandises, not only of our subjects, but also the subjects of our friends in the sea, which hath been accustomed anciently to be defended by the English nation, and the same, at their pleasure, have carried away, delivering the men in the same into miserable captivity: and forasmuch as we see them daily preparing all manner of shipping farther to molest our merchants, and to grieve the kingdom, unless remedy be not sooner applied, and their endeavours be not more manly met withal; also the dangers considered which, on every side, in these times of war do hang over our heads, that it behoveth us and our subjects to hasten the defence of the sea and kingdom with all expedition or speed that we can; we willing by the help of God chiefly to provide for the defence of the kingdom, safeguard of the sea, security of our subjects, safe conduct of ships and merchandises to our kingdom of England coming, and from the same kingdom to foreign parts passing; forasmuch as we, and our progenitors, Kings of England, have been always heretofore masters of the aforesaid sea, and it would be very irksome unto us if that princely honour in our times should be lost or in any thing diminished. And although that charge of defence which concerneth all men ought to be supported by all, as by the laws and customs of the kingdom of England hath been accustomed to be done: notwithstanding we considering that you constituted in the sea-coasts, to whom by sea as well great dangers are imminent, and who by the same do get more plentiful gains for the defence of the sea, and conservation of our princely honour in that behalf, according to the duty of your allegiance against such attempts, are chiefly bound to set to your helping hand; we command firmly, enjoining you the aforesaid Mayor, commonalty and citizens, and sheriffs of the said city, and the good men in the same city and in the liberties, and members of the same, in the faith and allegiance wherein you are bound unto us, and as you do love us and our honour, and under the forfeiture of all which you can forfeit to us, that you cause to be prepared and brought to the port of Portsmouth, before the first day of March now next ensuing, one ship of war of the burden of nine hundred tons, with three hundred and fifty men at the least, as well expert masters, as very able and skilful mariners; one other ship of war of the burden of eight hundred tons, with two hundred and sixty men at the least, as well skilful masters, as very able and expert mariners: four other ships of war, every of them of the burden of five hundred tons, and every of them with two hundred men at the least, as well expert masters, as very able and skilful mariners: and one other ship of war of the burden of three hundred tons, with a hundred and fifty men, as well expert masters, as very able and skilful mariners: and also every of the said ships with ordnance, as well greater as lesser, gunpowder, and spears and weapons, and other necessary arms sufficient for war, and with double tackling, and with victuals, until the said first of March, competent for so many men; and from that time, for twenty-six weeks, at your charges, as well in victuals as men's wages, and other things necessary for war, during that time, upon defence of the sea in our service, in command of the admiral of the sea, to whom we shall commit the custody of the sea, before the aforesaid first day of March, and as he, on our behalf, shall command them to continue; so that they may be there the same day, at the farthest, to go from thence with our ships, and the ships of other faithful subjects, for the safeguard of the sea, and defence of you and yours, and repulse and vanquishing of whomsoever busying themselves to molest or trouble upon the sea our merchants, and other subjects, and faithful people coming into our dominions for cause of merchandise, or from thence returning to their own countries. Also we have assigned you, the aforesaid Mayor and Aldermen of the city aforesaid, or any thirteen, or more of you, within thirteen days after the receipt of this writ, to assess all men in the said city, and in the liberties, and members of the same, and the landholders in the same, not having a ship, or any part of the aforesaid ships, nor serving in the same, to contribute to the expenses, about the necessary provision of the premises; and to assess and lay upon the aforesaid city, with the liberties and members thereof, viz. upon every of them according to their estate and substances, and the portion assessed upon them; and to nominate and appoint collectors in this behalf. Also we have assigned you, the aforesaid Mayor, and also the Sheriffs of the city aforesaid, to levy the portions so as aforesaid assessed upon the aforesaid men and landholders, and every of them in the aforesaid city, with the liberties and members of the same, by distress and other due means; and to commit to prison all those whom you shall find rebellious and contrary in the premises, there to remain until we shall give further order for their delivery. And moreover we command you, that about the premises you diligently attend, and do, and execute those things with effect, upon peril that shall fall thereon: but we will not, that under colour of our aforesaid command, more should be levied of the said men than shall suffice for the necessary expenses of the premises; or that any who have levied money for contribution to raise the aforesaid charges, should by him detain the same, or any part thereof; or should presume, by any manner of colour, to appropriate the same to other uses; willing, that if more than may be sufficient shall be collected, the same may be paid out among the contributors, for the rate of the part to them belonging.

Witness myself, at Westminster the twentieth day of October, in the tenth year of our reign[1].

[1] In 1635 the writs were extended to the inland counties.


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